“Multiple hacking gangs are preying on remote workforces and corporate VPNs through vishing attacks that are more efficient, dangerous and ubiquitous than ever.”
Source: SC Media
To mitigate VPN attacks has got even more complicated because of the rise in vishing. Vishing or voice-based phishing attacks are a type of social engineering attack that cyber gangs use to target unsuspecting employees over the phone. The trickster gets the employee to enter details on a convincing-looking bogus webpage. In parallel, the gang takes the credentials entered at the fake website and uses them to access the corporate VPN as the employee. Most worryingly is how efficient these gangs are at pulling off these type of VPN attacks to get inside the enterprise network. A perimeter breach is significant, as cyber gangs have free reign to hunt for further vulnerabilities.
There are additional reports on the rise of attacks that are targeting the actual VPN gateways. This different style of attack comes in the guise of cybercriminals using denial of service to target VPN access nodes. The difference in this style of attack is that it aims to cause disruption and to impact an organization’s productivity. As employees try to gain access over the VPN, their connection gets refused. It is not just productivity that is affected but also the customer and partner experience, as employees are not able to do their jobs.
Cybercriminals Exploiting Vulnerabilities
Cybercriminals are efficiently and effectively using both vishing and phishing tactics to gain employee confidence to infiltrate the organization. In a recent Asavie blog, my colleague Colm Warner shared some of the tactics used to exploit a human weakness in order to infiltrate the organization.
If we take some of the learnings from Colm’s phishing blog, we can quickly see how VPNs are exploited. Firstly, the position of the VPN access node is one of the key reasons as to why they are a target. VPN access nodes are on a public-facing network such as the internet. The infrastructure is visible to anyone, even those with malicious intentions.
Secondly, it is relatively simple to lure an unsuspecting remote employee into the exploitation of their VPN:
- Via social engineering cybercriminals identify corporate users and befriend them over social media.
- They then deploy denial of service attacks, creating connectivity issues with the VPN.
- These cybercriminals then call the remote employee, posing as an IT support colleague, explaining a fix for the issues that they are experiencing.
- The unsuspecting employee accepts the explanation and workaround presented i.e. log into a web domain and follow the steps to reconnect, allowing them to do their jobs.
Once the cybercriminals gain access to the VPN, they are essentially on a secure network connection where they may go undetected for weeks or even months.
Mitigate VPN attacks with Branch of One® for a secure office anywhere
How do organizations protect themselves from these cunningly simple attacks?
One way to mitigate VPN attacks is to eliminate the need for VPNs. Begin by defining the employee’s connectivity and security needs as an extended branch of the organization’s private network. Each employee is seen as a Branch of One®, which acts as an extension to the company’s trusted in-office network. Using a mobile device and corporate connection, organizations can quickly and efficiently deliver private networks to the employee anywhere. Safe, secure, and away from the prying eyes of cybercriminals.
Ultimately, the organization eliminates the need, hassle, and expense for VPN infrastructure on public networks.
The second thing that organizations can do to mitigate VPN attacks is to apply security policies around web domains accessible from the remote employee’s mobile device. Security policies assure that unknown or fraudulent domains are blocked. Even if an employee falls foul to a trickster call, there will be no way to access the bogus domain from the office anywhere.
A happy team is a productive team
Ultimately, the more frustration you remove from employees in terms of connectivity and security, the happier the team will be. A happy team is a productive team. Securing the Office Anywhere for all employees no longer needs to be a hassle for IT or the employee. It requires a little re-imagination of how we can leverage what is to hand, our smartphones, and a corporate connection to deliver secure connectivity anywhere.
Asavie Branch of One®
The Asavie Branch of One® is a cellular (4G/5G) network-based service. This means wherever employees can get a mobile signal; they are instantly a Branch of One® all with no user intervention or no VPN clients to launch. Not only do enterprises get enhanced security avoiding public Wi-Fi, but CIOs and IT teams can scale with ease without additional licenses on their VPN headend.
Learn how Asavie supports organizations in creating a secure office anywhere with Branch of One®.